Few urban critters are more reviled than the hipster. They are notoriously difficult to define, and yet we know one when we see one. No wonder: they were among the global cultural phenomena that ushered in the 21st century. They have become a bulwark of mainstream culture, cultural commodity, status, butt of all jokes and ready-made meme.
But frightening as it is to imagine, for more than a century hipsters have been lurking among us. Defined by their appearances and the cloud of meaning attached to them—the cool vanguard of gentrification, the personification of capitalism with a conscience—hipsters are all looks, and these looks are a visual timeline to America’s past and present.
Underlining this timeline is the pattern of American popular culture’s love/hate/theft relationship with Black culture. Yet the pattern of recycling has reached a chilling point: the 21st century hipster made all possible past fads into new trends, including and especially the old uncool. In Decolonize Hipsters, Grégory Pierrot gives us a field guide to the phenomenon, a symptom and vanguard of the wave of aggressive white supremacist sentiment now oozing from around the globe.
The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture
With the Ta-Nehisi Coates-authored Black Panther comic book series (2016); recent films Django Unchained (2012) and The Birth of a Nation (2016); Nate Parker’s cinematic imagining of the Nat Turner rebellion; and screen adaptations of Marvel’s Luke Cage (2016) and Black Panther (2018); violent black redeemers have rarely been so present in mainstream Western culture. Grégory Pierrot argues, however, that the black avenger has always been with us: the trope has fired the news and imaginations of the United States and the larger Atlantic World for three centuries.
The black avenger channeled fresh anxieties about slave uprisings and racial belonging occasioned by European colonization in the Americas. Even as he is portrayed as a heathen and a barbarian, his values-honor, loyalty, love-reflect his ties to the West. Yet being racially different, he cannot belong, and his qualities in turn make him an anomaly among black people. The black avenger is thus a liminal figure defining racial borders. Where his body lies, lies the color line. Regularly throughout the modern era and to this day, variations on the trope have contributed to defining race in the Atlantic World and thwarting the constitution of a black polity.
Pierrot’s The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture studies this cultural history, examining a multicultural and cross-historical network of print material including fiction, drama, poetry, news, and historical writing as well as visual culture. It tracks the black avenger trope from its inception in the seventeenth century to the U.S. occupation of Haiti in 1915. Pierrot argues that this Western archetype plays an essential role in helping exclusive, hostile understandings of racial belonging become normalized in the collective consciousness of Atlantic nations. His study follows important articulations of the figure and how it has shifted based on historical and cultural contexts.
Echos de saint-domingue, vol.1
Nouvelles du XIXème siècle
Introduction de Grégory Pierrot
Les conflits qui menèrent à l’indépendance d’Haïti en 1804 laissèrent des traces indélébiles dans l’histoire et la culture françaises. Il aura fallu deux siècles d’oublis systématiques pour diminuer l’importance que l’ancienne colonie française, ses habitants et son histoire auront eue dans l’imaginaire français au XIXe siècle. En proposant une sélection de textes sur Saint-Domingue et Haïti publiés par une variété d’écrivains entre le Premier et le Second Empire, ce recueil vise à donner un aperçu d’un corpus conséquent mais bien trop méconnu.
Free Jazz/Black Power
By Philippe Carles & Jean-Louis Comolli
Translated by Grégory Pierrot
In 1971, French jazz critics Philippe Carles and Jean-Louis Comolli co-wrote Free Jazz/Black Power, a treatise on the racial and political implications of jazz and jazz criticism. It remains a testimony to the long ignored encounter of radical African American music and French left-wing criticism. Carles and Comolli set out to defend a genre vilified by jazz critics on both sides of the Atlantic by exposing the new sound’s ties to African American culture, history, and the political struggle that was raging in the early 1970s. The two offered a political and cultural history of black presence in the United States to shed more light on the dubious role played by jazz criticism in racial oppression.
This analysis of jazz criticism and its production is astutely self-aware. It critiques the critics, building a work of cultural studies in a time and place where the practice was virtually unknown. The authors reached radical conclusions–free jazz was a revolutionary reaction against white domination, was the musical counterpart to the Black Power movement, and was a music that demanded a similar political commitment. The impact of this book is difficult to overstate, as it made readers reconsider their response to African American music. In some cases it changed the way musicians thought about and played jazz. Free Jazz / Black Power remains indispensable to the study of the relation of American free jazz to European audiences, critics, and artists. This monumental critique caught the spirit of its time and also realigned that zeitgeist.
An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti
Paul Youngquist and Grégory Pierrot, eds.
As the first complete narrative in English of the Haitian Revolution, Marcus Rainsford’s An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti was highly influential in establishing nineteenth-century world opinion of this momentous event. This new edition is the first to appear since the original publication in 1805. Rainsford, a career officer in the British army, went to Haiti to recruit black soldiers for the British. By publishing his observations of the prowess of black troops, and recounting his meetings with Toussaint Louverture, Rainsford offered eyewitness testimonial that acknowledged the intelligence and effectiveness of the Haitian rebels. Although not an abolitionist, Rainsford nonetheless was supportive of the independent state of Haiti, which he argued posed no threat to British colonial interests in the West Indies, an extremely unusual stance at the time. Rainsford’s account made an immediate impact upon publication; it was widely reviewed, and translated twice in its first year. Paul Youngquist’s and Grégory Pierrot’s critical introduction to this new edition provides contextual and historical details, as well as new biographical information about Rainsford. Of particular interest is a newly discovered miniature painting of Louverture attributed to Rainsford, which is reproduced along with the twelve engravings that accompanied his original account.